MARTA PTASZYNSKA is one of the best internationally-known Polish composers today. She is the author of such works as the Concerto for Marimba, Winter’s Tale, Sonnets to Orpheus, and Moon Flowers, as well as numerous compositions for percussion (Siderals, Graffito, Spider Walk, Space Model, Letter to the Sun) which have been performed frequently around the world.
Ptaszynska has received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, and Sinfonia Varsovia, from the National Opera in Warsaw, Polish television, and from chamber ensembles including the Pacifica and Wilanow string quartets, Warsaw Wind Quintet, Motion Trio, and from artists such as Ewa Podles, Keiko Abe, and Evelyn Glennie. She is the composer of four critically acclaimed operas – Oscar of Alva, Mister Marimba, Magic Doremik, and The Lovers of the Valldemosa Monastery, the latter having been commissioned by the Grand Opera Theatre in Lodz, Poland, for the 2010 Chopin Bicentennial. Her Holocaust Memorial Cantata gained international recognition from several performances in 1993 under the baton of Lord Yehudi Menuhin.
Ptaszynska has been honored with many prizes and awards, including from the Guggenheim Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fromm Music Foundation, Union of Polish Composers, and the Polish Ministry of Culture. In 1995, she received the “Officer Cross of Merit” of the Republic of Poland. Her music has been performed at prestigious international festivals, including the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Salzburg Festival, Warsaw Autumn International Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and others.
She holds Master of Arts degrees in composition, music theory, and percussion performance from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Poland, and an Artist Diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music. During her studies she worked privately with Witold Lutoslawski, who later became her mentor, studied with Nadia Boulanger, and attended Olivier Messiaen’s analysis classes at the Paris Conservatory. Widely acclaimed as a virtuoso percussionist, she has performed extensively as a soloist and participated in many European and American festivals.
She has taught composition at many educational institutions including the Chopin Academy of Music, Bennington College, the University of California in Berkeley and in Santa Barbara, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, and Northwestern University. In 1998 Ptaszynska was appointed a Professor of Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Since 2005 she holds an endowed chair and is Helen & Frank Sulzberger Professor in Composition. Click here to visit Ptaszynska’s website.